Emerging from decades of war, yet still stricken by poverty, political instability, health issues and food insecurity, South Sudan has entered a new era of development and nation-building. Speaking at the 2011 UN General Assembly, Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, formally invited the international development community to the new nation, stating, "our march out of the abyss of poverty and deprivation into the realm of progress and prosperity is going to be a long one and that is why we need you to partner us on this difficult journey" (Kiir 2011). While the international community has provided Southern Sudan with humanitarian assistance for decades, only now are they stepping into the role of planning and implementing development projects to "improve" South Sudan's economy, infrastructure and social services.
Taking the emergent forms of developer involvement in South Sudan as a starting point, this study examines whether the development community has translated decades of scholarly critique (e.g. De Waal 1989, 2005; Ferguson 1990; Sachs 1992; Scott 1976, 1998; Scudder 2005, 2009) into improved practice. To do so I compare the planning stages of two instances of "development" in South Sudan: colonial (Anglo-Egyptian) and post-colonial (contemporary). As the development community is involved in many sectors of South Sudanese society, I have narrowed my focus to instances of hydro-development, namely the Jonglei Canal (Anglo-Egyptian project) and the current push for agricultural expansion, which will require intensive irrigation schemes to reach desired outcomes. In this study I argue that while nearly two hundred years have passed since the onset of Anglo-Egyptian "development" in Southern Sudan, contemporary development actors in South Sudan hold the same "high modernist" biases which have in the past produced harmful and unintended consequences for affected populations.
Boueri, Kevin, "Two Hundred Years of "Development": "High Modernism," Water and People in South Sudan" (2012). Anthropology Honors Projects. 14.
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